“And what does the Lord God require of you? But just to do justice, and to love mercyand to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8
Jewish People are often called the “Chosen People.” They, alone of all people, are held to a higher standard, for they are the People of God. The world loves to hate Israel and the Jewish People, but the world continues to demand more of Israel, much more than it demands of itself. While the world uses an electron microscope to judge at everything Israel does, the expectation of “a higher standard” seems to be shared by all.
God, however, only expects the very basic from His people, to be good, just and righteous. If they do, they serve as an example and set the standard. If they do not, they depart Him and His ways.
A Jewish legend tells the story of two brothers. One was married and had children the other still looking for a wife. The brothers loved and appreciated each other. One night, the younger brother, not yet married, was sleepless and was worried about his older brother. So he took most of his fortune to his brother’s house and left it there.
Unbeknown to the younger brother, the older brother could not sleep either. He knew his younger brother was not yet married and had no children and thus, he was determined to do a deed. In the middle of the night he took most of his fortune and hid it in his brother’s place.
God, so impressed with the love of the two brothers and their actions, decided that His house should be built there, where people care about one another, do good deeds unselfishly, act justly and live according to the tenants of the Torah. According to our legend, the Temple was built there, in Jerusalem.
The Temple was twice destroyed, and it is said that the destruction came about from frivolous hatred, one among brothers. Both the First and Second Temples were destroyed on the Ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, which since has been a day of fasting and deep mourning. [This year it falls on Tuesday, the ninth of August.]
How can the Temple or the City of God be destroyed when God Himself is said to be dwelling there? Will God not protect His people?
Israel on its own cannot survive its enemies. They are too numerous and much more powerful. They have a crystal clear goal to destroy Israel. They could overwhelm Israel without much effort, but for the past 64 years of Israel’s existence as a modern, independent country in the Land of Israel, they did not succeed destroying her.
As long as God Himself, the Almighty Lord of Hosts, resides among the Israelites in the Land of Israel, they will exist. They are invincible, as His presence protects them. However, like a spoiled child who is too privileged and gone astray, too many in Israel have left the path of light, justice and righteousness. For that, for angering God, Israel is about to lose the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. For that, Israel will fall in the hands of its sworn enemies.
The answer is very simple, and is given by the Prophet Isaiah in his opening chapter. According to Isaiah, God has saith that sons He has reared and raised have sinned.
Isaiah continues: The situation is so severe that Judea and Jerusalem is described a whore and her ministers rebellious, companions of thieves, love bribes and pursue personal monetary favors. They do not judge the orphan, and the injustice done to the widow does not reach them. No one seems to be pleading any longer on behalf of the weaker elements in society. Life is full of iniquity.
Our very actions can bring about the best in life, God’s dwelling among us, when the actions are just and righteous, when we seek justice and look beyond ourselves. We, no one else, can bring about our very destruction, and subsequently our redemption and salvation.
God Lord of Hosts in His speech saith: “And I will return your judges as at the first and your counselors as at the beginning, and then you will be called the City of Justice, a Complex of Devotion / Loyalty. Zion in justice will be redeemed, and those returning to her by righteousness.” (Isaiah 1:26-27)
At times we look at life and we feel immune. Nothing can reach us, as we are wealthy, healthy and all powerful. We give homage to God, go the synagogue and behave as expected, as if on cue at all the right times and places. Then comes Isaiah and tells us we fool no one by our outwardly actions. As long as our behavior is devoid of meaning, or worse yet is completely evil, our appeasement toward God succeeds in doing exactly the opposite than we expect, it simply angers God who knows the truth and sees all.
Isaiah compares us, both the Jewish nation and our modern-day leaders, to Sodom and Gomorrah. Remember, they sinned so that the cry reached God and He came down to see if indeed their evil ways were so outrageous (Genesis 18:20-21).
The two cities were “like the Garden of the Lord” (Genesis 13:10), before God has destroyed them. Abraham was astonished: Will you destroy a righteous person with an evil one, he asked God (Genesis 18:23). Abraham stands and literally argues with God: Maybe you will find fifty righteous people, or even 45, 40, 30, 20 or ten, and then you must not kill them. Is it possible You, God who rules the country, will not do justice?
God tells Abraham that He will not destroy the cities if he finds ten good people, but as we know, these were not to be found. God did spare Lot, his wife and two daughters (Genesis 19:16).
The society was so corrupt that no one else was saved.
As the Jewish people ask ourselves over the millennia WHY? Why did we suffer the Destruction of the First and Second Temples, the Exiles, the Inquisition, the persecutions, the hatred? Why the Holocaust, Arab wars to destroy us, and an abiding Muslim hatred? We understood deep down every time we asked WHY-with painful recognition beyond human ability to bear-that we should not be asking God, but ourselves.
Times are good and Israel is financially strong. Israel’s military might is extraordinary, so indeed, we feel invincible. So why is it that politicians are corrupt, from a former Israeli President to prime ministers to ministers, generals and everyone underneath? Why is the social fabric of Israel so rotten, the ultra-rich so distanced from their brethren the have-nots? This co-existence is unhealthy for it indicates the moral fabric is corrupt.
Education in Israel is failing. Israelis do not know their Bible. Hatred is building to a boiling point. This is all internal, between and among Jewish people. The “progressive liberals,” those affluent Tel-Aviv-and-vicinity residents who like to lecture to others about social justice and human rights, were the first to withdraw their children when Ethiopian children arrived in their neighborhood schools.
When it comes to them, the revealed truth is ugly and disgusting. An experiment was carried out: Sudanese refugees, illegal immigrants to Israel, were bought bathing suits and paid fifty Shekels each (some $15) to go to a public pool among the “liberals.” What happened? All these beautiful people who lectured to others deserted the pool.
Division inside Israel is so worrisome that one is frozen in utter astonishment: Secular Israelis “hate” the religious Jews, but even more so they “hate” the “Settlers.” It is the Hareidi (ultra-orthodox) and the “Settlers” who bring about all the problems in Israel. It is because of “THEM” that young couples are suffering. So the commentators and columnists point the finger in broad daylight and blame elements within Israeli society. Alas, they do not look at themselves.
Israel is a house divided. Instead of uniting and fighting its enemies, Israel is embroiled in an internal debate on which way to go. The energies and attention that should be focused on defeating its enemies are wasted on internal disagreements.
Israel will suffer greatly and have no one else to blame. It is not Israel’s enemies that will cause her downfall, although they will be the instruments of destruction. If Israel were strong within she could survive and prevail, but inside she is weak and deteriorating. Remember that outwardly the offerings to God continue, the wonderfully enticing smells, the visages and mirages most lucrative; all devoid of content.
There are sinners, murderers with hands dripping Jewish blood of their own, Israelis who time and again stab Israel, their own country, their motherland, enjoying their brutality. They are Israel’s destroyers. On that matter said Isaiah (49:17): “Thy devastators and destroyers will emerge from thee.”
As we look around we must focus, as God obviously did so many years ago, on Sodom and Gomorrah: Maybe we will find a few good people? Surely, there are those who do not sin, who are righteous and just? Undoubtedly. The question though becomes: Is society beyond repair? Have the transgressions transformed and mutated every good portion of Israeli society? Exactly like a cancer that spreads throughout the body and attacks the liver and the lungs, brining the end so near.
Are Israel’s days numbered, possibly down to hours?
Once there were two brothers, more concerned with each other than their own selves, their comforts and wellbeing. This was the case so long ago. Now each brother fends for himself to the detriment of the other. What a sad point in time, what a horrible reflection of what happened to the good that once resided in Judea and Jerusalem that is now gone. How easy we are making it for our enemies.
All will be destroyed and just a tiny portion will remain: “your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners. And the daughter of Zion remains like a booth in a vineyard, like a dog’s house in a field of watermelons, as a besieged city.” (Isaiah 1:7-8)
Wake up Oh, Israel, and improve your ways. Israelis, compromise and reignite your bonds. Your wealth and strength are only temporary, and their “power” can dissipate in milliseconds. The weak elements in society are those you must hear, and you must act upon what happens.
The “Settlers” and the religious Jews are not your enemies. They are part and parcel of your very being, the road signs and the stoplights calling attention to your inner self. Devoid yourself of goodness and you will be destroyed, mark the words of the Almighty.